RV Slides: The Pros And Cons Explained

PublishedOctober 15, 2020

"(Gasp) LOOK AT ALL THE ROOM!"

You may have thought this the first time you saw the inside of an RV with a slide.

Marshall slide opened

Slide Open, Creating Room

Yes, the additional space is incredible. Even a smaller 25 foot RV becomes much larger with an RV slide.

Are RV slides all good? Heck no. They can come with pretty major issues.

We already know RV manufacturers are notorious for building cheap, short-lasting products.

Add a giant RV slide with a dinky motor, give it massive earthquakes every trip taken, and you're bound to have problems.

What Is An RV Slide?

A slide is a hard-sided 'pop-out', controlled by the push of a button.

It uses a motor, either electric or hydraulic, to slide the extend-a-room in and out.

Travel Trailer Slide Going Out

They aren't known for their in/out speed... (See video above for real-time action.)

Some RV slides only contain a small closet, some are just for the bed.

Others have multiple slides containing anything from the kitchen to a dining booth.

No matter what they 'open', they definitely open up a space. This makes for a more comfortable living area.

However, RV slides cannot be out while you are towing.

Marshall's Lance trailer slide in

Slide in

Marshall's Lance trailer slide out

Slide out

Let's have a look at the good and the bad of the notorious RV slide.

(3 good, 9 bad. What does that tell you, eeeeek!!!)

RV Slide PROS

Like we said, there are pros. Here are the few:

1. Creates Extra Space

This is the obvious benefit, right? RV slides add square footage to an inherently small space. This is especially helpful if you take lots of, or longer, camping trips. It's especially helpful if you live in your RV full-time or have a family.

2. More Windows?

Some RV slides add side windows. Some don't. The side windows can really open up a space and add more air flow. When out in beautiful country, more windows are a huge bonus.

3. Unit Size

If one can stretch out their inside space to be WIDER, then one can likely have a shorter RV than they can without one. Having a shorter RV makes life MUCH easier when driving and maneuvering.

RV Slide CONS

We mentioned the cons. There are many. Do they outweigh the pros for you? Here you go:

1. Maintenance and Repair

Ok, the big bad news is that slides are NOTORIOUS for having issues. They can be a huge headache when not working properly. Even Marshall is currently having an issue with his slide on his Lance trailer.

It must be lubricated regularly, the motor can break, hydraulic lines can leak, the track can go awry, all the joys plus more.

2. Slide Toppers

These are little awnings that automatically go out over the slide when it's deployed. Designed to keep leaves, water, and other debris off the roof of the slide, you must watch them in inclement weather. Water can pool. You must get the water off before bringing your slide in or the water will come in with it. You shouldn't allow snow to collect. The worst is when it's windy. The flapping noise can be so bad as to keep you up. Many people put their RV slides in if it's windy enough out. Very inconvenient.

3. Leaks

Oof. Another big one. You probably already know that water is the #1 enemy of RVs. Slide leaks are not uncommon. If you have a leak, you MUST fix it ASAP.

4. Insulation

Slides are not usually as well insulated as the rest of the RV. The joints allow for air to get through. So the more slides you have, the less insulated your rig is. There's also a chance that bugs and rodents will have an easier time of getting in. Rodents may well be the #2 enemy of RVs.

5. Weight

RV slides are heavy beasts. This means an RV with a slide is heavier than one without a slide. So now you need a bigger engine in your tow vehicle (or a bigger tow vehicle in general) and you potentially have less cargo capacity in the RV. (But more room to put it, lol!)

6. Balance

One must not overload a slide with cargo. The RV may already be 'off-kilter' simply because of its slide(s). Add a bunch of heavy stuff to the slide area and watch it quickly not work anymore because of it.

7. Campground Spaces

You MAY run into issues of not being able to completely deploy your RV slide or slides at a campground for lack of room. Not exaggerating here. Some campground spots are not wide enough to accommodate two RVs with slides next to each other. Sad but true.

8. Access When Traveling

This is one most people don't think about when shopping for an RV. When you're traveling, can you access the RV and bathroom and whatever else you may need with the slides in? If you cannot, this can be a real pain on the road. If you must have slides, try to get an RV that gives you access to the important areas when slides are in.

9. Extra Chore To Set Up/Tear Down

If you don't move a lot, this may not be a factor for you. If you camp often and/or move often, then it very well may be an issue. You may not think it takes long, but again, it's ONE MORE step in your setup.

Conclusion

Travel trailer at unlevel campsite

RV slides are great... when they are working. When they have issues, they are a real pain to deal with. Personally, Marshall never wants an RV with one again. And some RV owners love theirs. Despite the drawbacks.

Get an RV with a slide and you will have more space to work with. Get one without them and you don't have to mess with the maintenance, repairs, and the possibility of being stuck somewhere because your slide won't go in.

It's your choice! Now go buy yourself an RV. (We suggest no RV slides, but if that is not practical for you, then by all means, get one with them!)

Kelly Headshot

He-llllo. I'm the co-founder of Camp Addict, which my biz partner and I launched in 2017. I frigging love the RVing lifestyle but in December of 2020, I converted to part-time RV life. Heck, I lived in my travel trailer for over 5.5 years, STRICTLY boondocking for pretty much all of it. Boondocking is a GREAT way to live, but it's not easy. Anyway, I'm passionate about animals, can't stand campgrounds, I hardly ever cook, and I love a good dance party. Currently, I can be found plotting and scheming whether or not to start collecting farm animals (or plotting my next RV trip!) at my beautiful new 'ranch' named 'Hotel Kellyfornia', in Southern Arizona. 

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